One of the earliest morphologic changes evident in the monocrotaline (MCT) model of pulmonary hypertension in rats is microvascular leak. Whether this represents a direct effect of MCT metabolites or is secondary to inflammatory and thrombotic changes remains uncertain. To determine whether MCT directly affects endothelial cell permeability barrier function, we characterized the interaction of the reactive pyrrole intermediate of MCT (MCTP) with endothelial cell actin and characterized its effects on thrombin- mediated signal transduction and monolayer permeability. Bovine pulmonary endothelial cells (BPAEC) treated with MCTP had altered distribution of filamentous actin evident by fluorescence microscopy. Correlative Western blots and autoradiography of actin isolated from BPAEC treated with 14C- MCTP showed comigration of actin and MCTP-derived 14C. MCTP treatment did not alter cellular free Ca2+ concentrations nor did it interfere with thrombin-mediated intracellular Ca2+ signal. Pretreatment with MCTP significantly augmented the thrombin-mediated transudation of Evan's blue albumin in BPAEC monolayers apparently by increasing the size of intercellular gaps. We conclude that MCTP directly interacts with actin to alter its polymerization state but does not significantly affect endothelial cell response to contractile stimulus. Our results suggest that MCTP may affect endothelial cell barrier function through alterations in intracellular junctions.
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